The New Zealand Telecommunications Forum (TCF) has launched an online service that allows mobile phone users to check whether a handset has been blocked from use on New Zealand networks before they buy.
In December 2013, the TCF, along with its members Vodafone, Telecom and 2degrees, worked to develop a national mobile handset blacklisting system, which gives each network carrier the ability to block the IMEI number of a mobile device that has been reported as stolen across all three networks.
According to TCF, the launch of the online IMEI checking service completes the last part of this project.
Chief executive of the TCF David Stone said that introduction of the online checking tool for consumers, is an important step in reducing mobile phone theft.
"Mobile handset blacklisting was introduced to help reduce mobile phone theft by blocking lost and stolen devices nationwide so that phones become virtually worthless and therefore less enticing targets for thieves." said Stone.
"Now that users can check the status of a device before they purchase it, we hope to further combat the problem of handset theft."
The service is free and can be used by New Zealand based users up to three times per day. However, TCF cautions that the tool is not infallible.
The IMEI check only provides details of those phones reported and blocked at the time of the inquiry, so it cannot identify a device that has not has not yet been reported as lost or stolen. Users have up to 30 days to report a lost or stolen handset.
"If you're in the market for a second hand phone ask the seller for the IMEI number, input this into the webpage and if the results show the phone has been reported lost or stolen, then stay clear. You should always use common sense though - if a deal looks too good to be true, it usually is," said Stone.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.